Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished Oct 03, 2018
Prof. dr. Michelle PLUSQUIN
Nature tops the list of potent tranquilizers and stress reducers. Therefore, Hasselt University and the Province of Limburg are initiating a new research project that will investigate the impact of nature on work-related stress. Will nature-based activities during working hours affect our well-being?
THE SOCIETAL BURDEN THAT IS STRESS
“Time spent in nature decreases stress and anxiety and improves focus for adults as well as children.” – Laura Bush.
What is the effect of nature on the risk of getting a burnout? Are employees less viable for work-related stress if they can participate in nature-based activities? And what are the economic consequences for the company? These are just some of the questions that researchers at UHasselt want to find an answer to.
“Stress-related ailments are a massive burden for today’s society”, says dr. Silvie Daniels. “The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2020 psychological problems will be the main cause for a reduced productivity on the work floor.” High numbers that are confirmed by a study in 2013 by Securex, which revealed that 10 % of 220 000 employees in Flanders were suffering from acute mental fatigue and burnout. Recent studies even indicate that these numbers are still on the rise, currently reaching up to 17 %.
THE ENDLESS WONDERS OF NATURE
"With this research project we want to reduce the symptoms of mental fatigue and stress-related conditions among employees by letting them participate in nature-based activities during working hours”, prof. Michelle Plusquin tells us.
Approximately 50 employees of the Province of Limburg will participate and be followed up during this study. Half of them serves as a control, the other half will take part in workshops, like for example herb walks, in groups of 8 persons. In addition to this, the participants receive half an hour of stress prevention guidance under the supervision of a psychologist before the activity starts.
“Data will be gathered through questionnaires and objective measurements of stress and wellbeing, like concentration tests and measuring of stress hormones”, says dr. Diana Pardal. “Using these results we can further investigate whether there are beneficial economic effects as well.”
Dr. Silvie Daniels, dr. Diana Clemente Batalha Pardal and prof. dr. Michelle Plusquin are affiliated with the Centre of Environmental Sciences of Hasselt University.